You’ve probably experienced the feeling of confusion when trying to select the correct home air filter for your needs. What’s the best one? Is the more expensive products worth the investment? These are just a couple of the questions that make the selection mind-boggling. Let Niagara Home Services by Enercare crack the code of home air filters for you, so you can feel comfortable with your purchase.
Here’s an easy way to determine how efficient your old filter is (NOTE: Spare yourself a huge mess by conducting this experiment outside or with something below the filter to help keep things clear): Hold the filter horizontally, then using common table salt, begin to pour the salt through the filter and see the quantity that comes out the other side. If some or all the salt falls through the filter, then you know that the filter will let dust particles of similar size pass through. You might want to upgrade your filter to an air filter that’s more efficient.
Size, MERV rating and material – these are the three primary factors used to pick the proper air filter for your home.
1) Filter Size
Unless you have the proper size home air filter, you will never enjoy the full effectiveness your system and filter can provide. Simply look at the label of your existing filter to see the height by width and thickness, or just measure it yourself. The majority of home air filters are 1” thick, but there are a number of standard width and height dimensions, and some systems have thicker filters.
2) Material & MERV Rating
MERV ratings are the efficiencies of the filter on a scale of 16. MERV stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value. This number informs the user, under the least efficient conditions, how well the filter is designed to contain contaminants.
To help explain the scale of this system, these are some common MERV ratings and how they connect to efficiencies. This is only a guide, so make sure you read the filter manufacturers’ information when buying specific filters.
Rating Average Filtration Efficiency
MERV 1-4 60-80%
Fiberglass, Disposable Panel, Washable metal/synthetic, self-charging (Passive)
MERV 5-8 80-95%
Pleated, Media panel, Cube
MERV 9-12 >95%
MERV 13-16 >98%
Be Careful About High MERV Ratings
While a higher MERV number may provide better filtration efficiency, it is extremely important to understand that too high a MERV filter may also require more to operate your HVAC system. The higher the MERV, the more difficult the air may flow through the system, and the harder the system may need to work. Your goal is to get the right balance between air flow, air filtration level and energy efficiency.
Consider it this way, the most efficient ‘filter’ would probably be a piece of plywood that stops ALL contaminants and all the air from entering your the Niagara Region home. That's definitely the “best” air filtration, but would also be the least comfortable way to go.
Your best bet for most systems would be a MERV 6-8. A higher MERV filter should be used on the advice of your Niagara Home Services by Enercare service advisor to ensure your system has the capability of moving the correct amount of air through higher efficiency filters. You generally do not want to sacrifice energy-efficiency for filter efficiency; you want a balance of the two. However, if your family suffers from allergies or respiratory problems and a high MERV rated filter is required, consider a whole-home air filtration solution that will satisfy your energy and filter efficiency needs.
Filtration has changed significantly over the past few years. Early on, home air filters were used in the furnace or air handler only to protect the comfort equipment itself. Today it’s a whole new ballgame. the Niagara Region area homeowners expect their air filter to save children from a wide variety of harmful pollutants, dust mites, and even prevent the need for dusting. Dare to dream!